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FSOC Issues Report on Nonbank Mortgage Servicing Highlighting Strengths, Vulnerabilities and Recommendations

BY: Nanci Weissgold

What Happened?

In May 2024, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC or Council) issued a Report on Nonbank Mortgage Servicing (the Report). The Report recognizes the strengths of nonbank mortgage companies (NMCs) and the important role they serve. However, the Council warns that the vulnerabilities of NMCs are more acute due, in part, to the mortgage market shift from banks to NMCs, the increasing federal government exposure to NMCs, financial strain of nonbank originators following the end of the refinance boom, and considerable liquidity risk from NMCs funding sources. The Council warns that it will continue to monitor such risks and take or recommend additional actions in accordance with its Analytic Framework (the 2023 Analytic Framework) and Nonbank Designation Guidance (the 2023 Nonbank Designation Guidance), which we discussed in a prior blog post. The Council also makes several recommendations, including asking Congress to establish a fund financed by the nonbank mortgage sector and administered by an existing federal agency to ensure there are no taxpayer-funded bailouts should a nonbank mortgage servicer fail.

Why Does it Matter?


The Dodd-Frank Act empowers FSOC to designate a nonbank financial company subject to enhanced prudential standards and supervision by the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors by a two-thirds vote of the Council. The Council is comprised of 10 voting members consisting of the U.S. prudential regulators, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, an independent member having insurance expertise, and five non-voting members with the Secretary of the Treasury serving as Chairperson of the Council.

This designation can be made upon the Council’s finding that:

  • Material financial distress at the nonbank financial company could pose a threat to the financial stability of the United States; or
  • The nature, scope, size, scale, concentration, interconnectedness, or mix of the activities of the nonbank financial company could pose a threat to the financial stability in the United States.

The Council’s 2023 Analytic Framework provides a non-exhaustive list of eight potential risk factors and the indicators that FSOC intends to monitor that include: (i) leverage, (ii) liquidity risks and maturity mismatches, (iii) interconnections, (iv) operational risk, (v) complexity of opacity, (vi) inadequate risk management, (vii) concentration, and (viii) destabilizing activities. Additionally, FSOC will assess the transmission of those risks by evaluating: (i) exposure, (ii) asset liquidation, (iii) critical function or service, and (iv) contagion. The 2023 Nonbank Designation Guidance, procedural in nature, defines a two-stage process the Council will use to make a firm-specific “nonbank financial company determination” pursuant to FSOC’s Analytic Framework. The Council also has the authority to make recommendations to regulators and Congress and engage in interagency coordination.

The 2024 Report on Nonbank Mortgage Servicing

At the outset, the Council recognizes that the NMC market share has increased significantly. Based on HMDA data, NMCs originate around two-thirds of mortgages in the United States and owned the servicing rights on 54 percent of mortgage balances in 2022 as compared to 2008 when NMCs originated only 39 percent of mortgages and owned the servicing rights on only four percent of mortgage balances. Moreover, in the 10-year period between 2014 and 2024, the share of Agency (i.e., Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae) servicing handled by NMCs increased from 35 percent 66 percent.

In 2023, NMCs serviced around $6 trillion for the Agencies and approximately 70 percent of the total Agency market.

FSOC recognizes that NMCs filled a void following the 2007-2009 crisis when banks exited the market due to several factors (such as the revised capital rules on banks, making MSRs less attractive, as well as perceived increased costs of default servicing resulting from the National Mortgage Settlement, the Independent Foreclosure Review, prosecutions under the False Claims Act, and private litigation.) According to FSOC, NMCs developed substantial operational capacity and embraced technology. The Council also recognizes NMCs’ strength in servicing historically underserved borrowers. In 2022, NMCs originated greater than 70 percent of mortgages extended to Black and Hispanic borrowers and more than 60 percent of low- and moderate-income borrowers.

While recognizing the strengths of NMCs, the Report also highlights several vulnerabilities. Of the eight risk factors identified in the 2023 Analytic Framework, FSOC focuses its concerns on the following four vulnerabilities:

  • Liquidity Risks & Maturity Mismatches: As provided in the 2023 Analytic Framework, a shortfall of sufficient liquidity to cover short-term needs, or reliance on short-term liabilities to finance longer-term assets, can lead to rollover or refinance risk. FSOC may measure this risk by looking at the ratios of short-term debt to unencumbered liquid assets and the amount of additional funding available to meet unexpected reductions in available short-term funds. FSOC reports “considerable” liquidity concerns from NMCs’ funding sources and servicing contracts. First, NMCs’ reliance on warehouse lines of credit can result in (i) margin calls, (ii) repricing or restructuring lines by raising interest rates, changing the types of acceptable collateral, or canceling lines, (iii) exercising cross default provisions, and (iv) the risk of multiple warehouse lenders enforcing covenants or imposing higher margin requirements at the same time. Second, NMCs face liquidity risk from margin calls on the hedges in place to protect interest rate movements while mortgages are on a warehouse line. Third, NMCs face liquidity risks from their lines of credit that are collateralized by mortgage servicing rights (MSRs), that can also result in margin calls. Finally, requirements to advance funds on behalf of the investor (particularly Ginnie Mae) or repurchase mortgages from securitization pools may result in liquidity strains.
  • Leverage: As provided in the 2023 Analytic Framework, leverage is assessed by levels of debt and other off-balance sheet obligations that may create instability in the face of sudden liquidity restraints, within a market or at a limited number of firms in a market. To assess leverage, the Council may look at quantitative metrics such as ratios of assets, risk-weighted assets, debts, derivatives liabilities or exposures, and off-balance sheet obligations to equity. The Report cites to data from Moody’s Ratings which requires an NMC to have a ratio of secured debt to gross tangible assets of less than 30 percent for its long-term debt rating to be investment grade. In the third quarter of 2023, 37% of NMCs met this standard and 35% of NMCs had ratios in excess of 60 percent which is considered a high credit risk. According to FSOC, equity funding by NMCs add to leverage vulnerability.
  • Operational Risk: As provided in the 2023 Analytic Framework, operational risk arises for the “impairment or failure of financial market infrastructures, processes or systems, including due to cybersecurity vulnerabilities.” The Report highlights that for NMCs operational risks include continuity of operations, threats from cyber events, third-party risk management, quality control, governance, compliance, and processes for servicing delinquent loans.
  • Interconnections: As provided in 2023 Analytic Framework, direct or indirect financial interconnections include exposures of creditors, counterparties, investors, and borrowers that can increase the potential negative effect measured by the extent of exposure to certain derivatives, potential requirement to post margin or collateral, and overall health of the balance sheet. Through warehouse lenders, other financing sources, servicing and subservicing relationships, NMCs are connected to each other. Because of such linkages, the Council is concerned that financial difficulties at one core lender could affect many NMCs.

Because of these NMC vulnerabilities, FSOC is concerned that NMCs could transmit the negative effects of such shocks to the mortgage market and broader financial system through the following channels discussed in the 2023 Analytic Framework:

  • Critical Functions and Services: As provided in 2023 Analytic Framework, a risk to financial stability can arise if there could be a disruption of critical functions or services that are relied upon by market participants for which there is no substitute. FSOC is concerned that if an NMC is under financial strain, it would not have the resources to carry out its core responsibilities, which could result in bankruptcy, borrower harm, operational harm, or servicing transfers mandated by state regulators.
  • Exposures: This refers to the level of direct and indirect exposure of creditors, investors, counterparties, and others to particular instruments or asset classes. Again, if an NMC faced financial strain that impacted the ability of the NMS to execute its functions, other counterparties could be harmed, including investors and credit guarantors. The Agencies could also experience high costs and credit losses and may have challenges in transferring servicing to a more stable servicer. The Report notes that “servicing assumption risk may be slightly less acute (though not less costly) for the enterprises, which have more preemptive tools available to them to assist a servicer in distress than Ginnie Mae does.”
  • Contagion and Asset Liquidation: While these are two separate risks, the Council grouped them together. As defined in the 2023 Analytic Framework, contagion is the potential for financial contagion arising from public perceptions of vulnerability and loss of confidence in widely held financial instruments. Asset liquidation is rapid asset liquidation and the snowball effect of a widespread asset selloff across sectors. The Council is concerned that because MSRs are a large share of NMCs’ assets, “changes in macroeconomic conditions or funder risk appetite” could depress MSR valuations resulting in rapid liquidation and have a material impact on NMC solvency and access to credit.

Because of the federal government’s financial support to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the direct responsibility for Ginnie Mae’s guarantee to bond investors, the federal government has an interest in addressing servicing risks. FSOC does not believe such risks, as identified above, are sufficiently addressed by the states or existing federal authority. First, “[n]o federal regulator has direct prudential authorities over nonbank mortgage servicers.” Second, the state regulators have prudential authority, however, only nine states (as of April 2024) have adopted prudential financial and corporate governance standards. To that end, the Council recommends:

  • State regulators adopt enhanced prudential requirements, further coordinate supervision of nonbank mortgage servicers, and require recovery and resolution planning for large nonbank mortgage servicers.
  • Federal and state regulators should continue to monitor the nonbank mortgage sector and develop tabletop exercises to prepare for the failure of nonbank mortgage servicers.
  • Congress should provide the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Ginnie Mae with additional authority to establish safety and soundness standards and directly examine nonbank mortgage servicer counterparties for compliance with such standards. Congress should also authorize Ginnie Mae and encourage state regulators to share information with each other and Council members.
  • Congress should consider legislation to provide more protections for borrowers to keep their homes.
  • Congress should consider providing Ginnie Mae with authority to expand its Pass-Through Assistance Program (PTAP) to include tax and insurance payments, foreclosure costs and or advances during periods of severe market stress.
  • Congress should through legislation establish a fund (financed by the nonbank mortgage servicing sector) to facilitate operational continuity of servicing for servicers in bankruptcy or failure to ensure the servicing obligations can be transferred, or the company is recapitalized or sold. The Council recommends that Congress provide “sufficient authority to an existing federal agency to implement and maintain the fund, assess appropriate fees, set criteria for making disbursements, and mitigate risks associated with the implementation of the fund.”

What Do I Need to Do?

Well, shortly after the Report was issued, CFPB Director Chopra issued a statement, indicating that: “The Report is silent on what, if any, tools the FSOC itself should use to address these risks. That must be the next phase of our work. In line with the 2023 Analytic Framework and Nonbank Designation Guidance, we should carefully consider whether any large nonbank mortgage companies meet the statutory threshold for enhanced supervision and regulation by the Federal Reserve Board.”

Given that warning, NMCs should pay careful attention to the statutory threshold for enhanced supervision and work on mitigating their liquidity and other risks. The Report points out that the CSBS enhanced prudential standards are enforceable by the states that have adopted such standards “including through multistate examinations that include at least one state that has adopted the standards or through referrals to states that have adopted these standards.” Thus, servicers should anticipate more state or multistate probes concerning liquidity and corporate governance. And, while stating the obvious, now is the time to double down on managing operational risks, including but not limited to continuity of operations, threats from cyber events, third-party risk management, quality control, governance, compliance, and processes for servicing delinquent loans.

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